Adyashanti: Forgiving yourself

Forgiving yourself is a big part of healing unworthiness. You have to forgive yourself for feeling unworthiness, and you can’t forgive yourself unless you allow yourself to feel tenderness, kindness, love, and compassion.

Forgiveness comes from a kind of wisdom that sees that we don’t really know what we’re doing. Jesus said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It takes humility to forgive yourself, including your mind and your emotions.

You can project unworthiness onto everyone around you. There are lots of strategies that we use to avoid encountering unworthiness directly.

With consciousness comes options, and with options, you have to take responsibility: “What options am I going to start to utilize? Am I going to choose to be angry, compassionate, kind, or wise? Where am I going to operate from — the conflicted mind, or from some sort of stability?” It’s always wise to choose kindness.

Ultimately unworthiness is a form of attacking yourself. It is being very unloving and not being understanding. To stop attacking yourself takes a kind of humility — sometimes we just need to see what we’re doing.

~Adyashanti from the Way of Liberating Insight course


Forgiveness has been coming up for me again.

It is very simple. And yet also layered.

Any example of forgiveness is unique in itself. It has its own unique wholeness and pattern.

And there are also shared dynamics there whether it is a forgiveness of myself, others, or life (God, universe, reality).

And behind this is an even more general pattern of “shoulds” and release of “shoulds”, or beliefs and finding what is more honest for me than the initial belief.

And behind this layer is the identification as a “me” and “I”, taking what I am to be this image of a person in the world, or the images of a doer and observer.

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Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.
– Nelson Mandela in Invictus

It is a good observation.

When I have not (yet) forgiven, there is a knot there. And that knot inevitably – it seems – includes fear.

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It is pretty straightforward to open for gratitude: Write gratitude lists or letters. And it is also pretty straightforward to meditate or pray, at least with some guidance. Or to practice acts of kindness, or become more engaged in ones life.

But how to forgive? For many of us, that seems far more mysterious.

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No formula for forgiveness


Ernst Baasland, a bishop in Norway, has written a book on forgiveness following a high-profile situation where he and his wife lost their money due to their son’s gambling addiction.

In an interview with Aftenposten, he says:

Tilgivelse og livskunst hører sammen, men boken vil ikke gi en oppskrift på tilgivelsen. Den finnes ikke.

Forgiveness and the art of living go together, but the book will not give a recipe for forgiveness. There is none.

That is true. Forgiveness is always an individual and unique process. The knot that prevents forgiveness is tied in a different way each time, and so the process of untying is different for each of us and each time.

At the same time, it is not quite true that there are no recipes for forgiveness. There are guidelines and tools that can make forgiveness possible, that creates the conditions for forgiveness.

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What does it mean to sin? 

For me, I sin whenever I take a story as true. I pretend and act as if something is true that isn’t. And I hurt myself and others by doing so. 

At the same time, there is complete innocence there. When I take a story as true, I have to act as if it is true. I can’t help it. I can’t help taking it as true, as long as I do. I can acting on it as true, as long as I do. 

And in that innocence is already forgiveness. 

As always, this can look very ordinary, and easily co-exist with conventional views. I can take responsibility for my actions. I can notice when I attach to a story as true. I can inquire into my beliefs, finding what is more true for me. I can ask for forgiveness from others. I can find forgiveness for myself and through that, for others. 

It is all quite beautiful.

Two lines


One line is my sins, and another line is forgiveness for these sins. Mostly the music has two vocies. One is more complicated and subjective, but another is very simple, clear, and objective.
– Arvo Pärt, interviewed by Björk

A beautiful description of who and what we are. As who we are, this human self, we are complicated and subjective. We are conditioned in a particular way, experience life through our own set of filters. As what we are, we are simple, clear, objective. Either one is beautiful, and the real beauty comes from both together, from one existing within the context of the other. 

As a human self, I sin. I make mistakes. I am confused. I am not aware of the impact of my actions in the world. 

As what I am, there is already forgiveness. 

And all of that is reflected in Arvo Pärt’s music, in a beautiful way.


Some things about forgiveness…

Forgiveness comes from seeing that we all are in the same boat, recognizing myself in others. An open heart, kindness, clarity.

Forgiveness comes from investigating stories and finding what is more true for me than an initial belief. 

Forgiveness comes from recognizing that all is already forgiven, all is innocence. When we take a story as true, we have to act as if it is true. All has infinite causes, the local expressions of movements of the whole. 

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Forgive oneself

One of the basic pointers in growing and waking up (or at least align with awakening) is to forgive oneself. 

When I forgive myself, I forgive – and heal – images of myself. Images from specific situations in the past, and images of aspects of me here now. 

And forgiving myself and others mirror each other. How I relate to one is how I relate to the other. 

It all happens within my own world of images. The wounds, healing, forgiveness all happens within my own world of images. 

It all reflects qualities and dynamics right here, in this human self. 

It is all what I am and what everything/one is. 

Through this, I can heal and mature as a human self in the world. 

And my conscious view and life is more aligned with what I am. My life is a little more aligned with what I am everything already is. 

That alignment can happen even if what I am does not notice itself. It can happen while it notices itself and identification is still in stories and (parts of) content of experience. And it can happen in the context of awakeness awake to itself, and identification shifted out of stories and into the field of awakeness/form.  

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